Trump’s Sellout of American Heritage

For the U.S.A. has the greatest home for sockeye salmon on the planet in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The Trump administration is putting it at risk in order to aid a foreign mining conglomerate.

This American carnage is led by a man whose job is to protect the natural world within our borders, the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt. As you may have heard, he has sealed himself off from the public with a $25,000 phone security system and an 18-member security detail. It took a court order to pry loose some of the details of his meetings. No surprise, he holds daily lap-dog sessions with the companies he is supposed to regulate.

Pruitt is the swamp, the only wetland the Trump administration wants to protect. He serves the oil, chemical and mining interests that propped him up when he was attorney general of Oklahoma. He now runs the oil, chemical and mining protection agency out of Washington, with our money.

.. National monuments — not the Confederate kind that Trump wants to preserve, but special places protected in somewhat the same way as national parks — are also in his sights.

.. Half the world’s wild sockeye come from this magical place, a bounty that supports 14,000 jobs. Alaskans are a cantankerous bunch who can’t agree on much of anything. Yet they voted by an overwhelming margin in 2014 to protect Bristol Bay from a gold and copper mine that could generate 10 billion tons of toxic waste.

And unlike big food producers in the heartland, the Bristol Bay salmon industry is not propped up by subsidies, chemicals or compromised politicians.

Kristof: Trump’s Successes, But Cycle Turning

President Trump has now been in the White House for six months, and Democrats are fairly gleeful in noting that he is: a) deeply unpopular; b) mired in scandals; and c) bereft of any legislative victories. That’s all true, but also I think too glib. Trump has been quite successful, in my view, in two areas:

  1. appointing conservatives to federal courts, most notably Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court; and in
  2. changing the regulatory landscape by removing environmental safety standards.

.. Since the 1970s we’ve seen a long-term trend toward cutting taxes and social services, and there have been a series of grim consequences: rising inequality, stagnant high school graduation rates, rising incarceration rates, rising narcotics use, stagnant earnings for the bottom half of Americans, and so on. So many national problems seem to have their roots in a cycle that started then, but I wonder if the cycle is turning.

  • The failure of Trumpcare is a case where a program for the poor, Medicaid, won a political battle, and
  • Kansas has shown that at some point voters prefer to raise taxes than see service cuts. More broadly,
  • even conservative states like Texas have reversed themselves on mass incarceration, and high school graduation rates are again going up.

Could we be turning a corner?

.. For me, the most chilling aspect of President Trump’s interview with The Times on Wednesday was his insistence on reserving the right to fire Bob Mueller. That would be ten times bigger than firing Jim Comey, and the fact that Trump even brings it up makes me think that he fears Mueller is getting close to something the president wants hidden.

‘The Ugly Environmentalist’

The rhetoric of climate-change alarmists grows ever more hysterical.

.. A recent New York magazine cover story on climate change assured readers that all of the previous climate-change alarmism was too tepid. Basically, by the end of the century, the living will envy the dead and much of the planet will be uninhabitable or a reenactment of a Mad Max movie.

.. A recent New York magazine cover story on climate change assured readers that all of the previous climate-change alarmism was too tepid. Basically, by the end of the century, the living will envy the dead and much of the planet will be uninhabitable or a reenactment of a Mad Max movie.

.. It’s remarkable how many of the people who rightly recoil in horror at the idea of using, say, the war on terror to justify curtailing civil liberties have no such response when someone floats similar ideas for the war on climate change.

.. Filipovic is precisely one of those writers you’d expect to go ballistic if some conservative Christian opined about the reproductive choices women should make. But if it’s in the name of the environment? Let’s wag those fingers, everybody!

.. But if you really want to yoke your reproductive choices to the issue of climate change (a bizarre desire if you ask me), maybe you should have as many kids as possible and educate them in science and engineering so they can come up with a solution. 

For instance, did you know America may end up complying with our Paris-accord obligations despite our withdrawal? It’s all thanks to breakthroughs in natural gas, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Thank goodness the people who came up with that stuff didn’t have parents who believed all the hype.

The Bad, the Worse and the Ugly

the most revealing thing in the interview may be Mr. Trump’s defense of Bill O’Reilly, accused of sexual predation and abuse of power: “He’s a good person.” This, I’d argue, tells us more about both the man from Mar-a-Lago and the motivations of his base than his ramblings about infrastructure and trade.

.. How much difference has it made, really, that Donald Trump rather than a conventional Republican sits in the White House?

.. the ignominious collapse of the effort to kill Obamacare — owed almost nothing to executive dysfunction. Repeal-and-replace didn’t face-plant because of poor tactics; it failed because Republicans have been lying about health care for eight years. So when the time came to propose something real, all they could offer were various ways to package mass loss of coverage.

.. Tax reform looks like a bust .. because nobody in the G.O.P. ever put in the hard work of figuring out what should change and how to sell those changes.

.. it’s clear that the administration has no actual infrastructure plan, and probably never will.

.. there are some places where Mr. Trump does seem likely to have a big impact — most notably, in crippling environmental policy. But that’s what any Republican would have done

.. Trumpist governance in practice so far is turning out to be just Republican governance with (much) worse management

.. Trumpism has brought is a new sense of empowerment to the ugliest aspects of American politics.

.. one thing the interviewees often say is that Mr. Trump is honest, that he tells it like is, which may seem odd given how much he lies about almost everything, policy and personal. But what they probably mean is that Mr. Trump gives outright, unapologetic voice to racism, sexism, contempt for “losers” and so on

.. Mr. Trump isn’t an honest man or a stand-up guy, but he is, arguably, less hypocritical about the darker motives underlying his worldview than conventional politicians are.

.. they provide a safe space for people who want an affirmation that their uglier impulses are, in fact, justified and perfectly O.K.

..

whether unapologetic ugliness is a winning political strategy.